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The old lady is back: Juventus' rise back to the top

The rise of a European superpower

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature 18 May 2015, 22:37 IST
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Juventus
The Juventus team after winning the Serie A title for 2013-14

Juventus, also known as “La Vecchia Signora”(The Old Lady). The “old” part of the nickname is a pun on Juventus which means youth in Latin. During the 90’s when Italian football was at its peak, first with Sacchi’s Milan, followed by Lippi’s Juve. Juventus reached the champions League final, 3 times in a row. However, they won only in the first final. 

Juventus were arguably the best club in Europe until 2006. During that time, the World Cup final of 2006 between Italy and France had a combined strength of 8 players from the Juve side.

Just when it seemed Italian football was on the rise, the Calciopoli scandal took place as Juventus crashed down and were relegated to Serie B (Juve were found guilty of match-fixing, perhaps wrongly). Juve had to play in Serie B for the first time in their illustrious history. They had always played in the First division and their morale was quite low. Players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lilian Thuram and Fabio Cannavaro decided to part ways with the club. Nevertheless, Juventus easily won the Serie B title, despite being docked points.

Return to Serie A

Upon their return to Serie A , Juventus were struggling due to below average signings like Knezevic,Almiron.Tiago,Diego and Felipe Melo, to name a few. These signings were made by Alessio Secco, who was clearly incompetent. Their coaches were Ranieri and Del Neri. Juventus eventually finished in 7th place, clearly damaging the clubs reputation.

They were looking to reclaim the title which they felt they were entitled to win. The appointed Antonio Conte in 2012 (a former Juve captain under Lippi) didn’t seem like a high profile appointment because he had only managed provincial clubs like Arrezo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. By this time, Juventus had built their brand new Juventus stadium. They signed Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

The combination of Conte’s fighting spirit and the atmosphere created by the stadium, Juve won the scudetto that very season along with going unbeaten the entire season. The following seasons saw Juve winning 2 more Serie A titles in a row. In the 2014 season, Juventus broke the record for most points in a Serie A season. Signings made by Juve were all reputed players namely, Paul Pogba, Asamoah, Isla, Tevez and Llorente. But Juventus struggled in Europe during the 2013 and 2014 seasons mainly due to Conte’s austere 3-5-2 formation which was easily exploited by other European clubs.

The “Conte Era” ends

Antonio Conte resigned before the 2014-15 season started. Massimiliano Allegri, a former AC Milan and Cagliari manager, was appointed as Conte’s successor. His appointment was met by hostility by the Juventus faithful. Reasons being Allegri was from a rival team and he had big boots to fill after Conte’s departure. He strengthened Juve with the signings of Morata, Pereyra, Evra  and Romulo. He made Juventus tactically flexible ,by playing a 4-1-2-1-2 formation and occasionally alternating back to 3-5-2 system at times.

Juventus have already won this year’s league title, they have reached the Coppa Italia final against Lazio and they will go to Berlin to play the Champions League final against Barcelona. Their run up to the final can be attributed to Allegri’s tactical flexibility. Juventus have a chance to win a treble for the first time in their history.The Old Lady has risen from the ashes like a phoenix, to become a European superpower again.

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